Will Covid-19 change the thinking around use of office space going forward?

Obviously we will have to wait and see.
The critical measure will prove to be  time i.e. how long will the lockdown last? Will Covid-19 change the thinking around use of office space going forward?Even with the government recently announcing the relaxation of the current position, especially the statement, “if you can’t work from home go to work”, the picture for employees and employers alike is blurred. The question of who or what is an essential worker has been very much in the air.

The reason time is critical, is because the longer staff are working out of the office, the better understanding businesses will have around the real and perceived risks associated with home or remote working e.g. trust, productivity levels, data security concerns and staff supervision to name just a few of the “hard” factors.

Also, the more acclimatised employees will feel as they adapt to the new environment the more they are likely to ask employers to consider more flexible working.

Outside of the hard factors, there are softer considerations such as a reduction in commuting time helping work-life balance. Reducing costs for employees in travel and sustenance when away from the home and in the office.

The impact on individuals and teams affecting their sense and feeling around being a part of something important like a team or company purpose may impact morale and employee loyalty, which may knock on to damaging the corporate brand or retention of staff. But again time will tell.

The ‘New Normal’

So to coin a phrase, what will the new normal look like for office space going forward? As I have stated some obvious facts are present, even though we can’t yet full assess the impact of the changes or what the cost benefits of change may be yet.

But what is clear is that boards will begin to question the logistical strategy of their firms and this may lead to asking why they operate the way they do, is it principally because it is the way we have always conducted business? Will this time of lockdown prove to be when business realised that a clear opportunity exists to significantly reduce the fixed costs of rents and leases and boost the bottom line?

Technology has proved reliable and resilient as ways of keeping in touch, with the human element of visual not just audio communication and staff communicating via Zoom, Microsoft team, and Skype to name a few are proving highly effective.

For large “blue chip” and multinational companies, any evolution will be slow, however, it has already begun with a number of firms adopting a hot desk, remote enabled working environment for staff.

But for SME’s and micro-enterprises the time is right to review the strategy and take advantage of the opportunities that technology and remote working brings in reducing costs and creating the employee benefits that are gained by reducing the need to commute every day and incur the stress and cost that brings.

So the model of bringing people into city centres to ask them to do what they are capable of doing at the home will be challenged. Of course, people need to interact and meet but can this be done in a more cost-effective way?

Whatever the answers will be, one thing is certain, the serviced office sector is ready to enable the changes. The sector is geared for example to enable firms to have adequate permanent space for staff with ‘spill out’ space on demand for team meetings or client engagement on a pay as you go basis.

Serviced office providers are ideally set to meet whatever opportunities the new normal will bring for businesses large or small or self-employed that have come to question how effective working from home is constantly and may want to present a more responsive service to their clients using virtual facilities.

So we all look forward to coming out of this time and wait to see what the questions and answers companies large and small will ask and what they do with the conclusions. Whatever the outcome, the serviced office sector will be ready to facilitate their needs.

If you need any help or advice regarding your next office space, contact us today.